Can we have some more - fashionable townhouses in a former orphanage
Former children's home converted into fashionable townhouses
Living in an orphanage is far from the nightmare portrayed in popular period fiction - so long as the orphanage in question is of the homely type founded by the enlightened childcare pioneer Rosa Barrett.
Kingstown, as Dun Laoghaire was known, had three orphanages, but one - the quirkily named 'The Cottage Home for Little Children' was different. Recently it's been the subject of an enlightened conversion and this week the orphanage is again opening its doors to new residents as a fashionable residential scheme.
Kingston was an upmarket town in the 19th century, with its Victorian seafront and period homes. But not too far from the heart of the port town was a slum quarter that housed numerous labourers.
Rosa Barrett, one of the local gentry involved in charitable works, came to realise the conditions that these families lived in could be much improved if the mothers were able to go to work. And so the English-born social reformer and suffragist, who would go on to form the Irish section of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, set up a committee in 1879 to look into establishing a day nursery for young children of working mothers and a residential home for young children. It became the first of its kind in Ireland to cater for children requiring care and accommodation on a daily and full-time basis.
Kingstown already had orphanages, including the Bird's Nest, dubbed 'The Institution', which was built on the slope of York Road. In it children were trained for domestic service. Both it and St. Joseph's Orphanage on Tivoli Road were somewhat forbidding. Barrett's version - 'The Cottage Home for Little Children' - would be different. The name reflected its ethos - providing accommodation on a homely, cottage scale, for children under six. After moving to different locations within Kingstown and expanding to include resident children, the committee decided a larger, permanent site was needed and set out to plan a purpose-built home.
Design would be central to this new concept of a nursery and orphanage - to create the environment of a home rather than an institution. When a site was found on the Tivoli Road frontage of Royal Terrace, W. Kaye Parry, an up-and-coming architect, gave his services free of charge, and designed a large building in the cottage style. When it was finished in 1887, 'The Cottage Home for Little Children' was carved in stone lettering along the front. It would house up to 50 boys and girls.
Historian Peter Pearson says: "Parry took the English Tudor theme and designed a large two-storey house. The features include fine brickwork, bay windows and beautifully timbered gables. This style was adopted quite widely, and was very popular for parochial halls such as the Knox Hall in Monkstown."
By the end of the 1970s, the number of children in The Cottage Home had slumped amid a decline in demand for residential places and, after 125 years, the children's home closed. In 2005, the listed Victorian building was purchased by property investor Robin Power for an estimated €6m. He had planned to transform it into five homes and to add six four-bedroom houses in a terrace to the rear facing onto Royal Terrace North. The homes would feature concealed roof gardens, large basements with wine cellars and home cinemas, as well as underground car parking and internal lifts. Power is a former Cork dentist-turned-developer, responsible for schemes including Stephen's Green Centre in Dublin in the 1980s and he revamped the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles with Donald Trump.
However, the recession called a halt to that development. Irish Nationwide had backed the deal and US fund Lone Star purchased the debt in 2014 and appointed a receiver in March last year. The site and its buildings were eventually sold last year to Elmhill Homes, which has redeveloped the one-time orphanage into a new scheme called Tivoli Place.
Montane Developments was tasked with the conservation of the property and its outbuildings. It has since meticulously restored the facade with its full brickwork, the timbered gables, and modelled the internal structure to accommodate five townhouses.
These two and three-bed townhouses retain key period features, such as the high ceilings, ornate coving, and original sash window casements. The homes have new internal solid wood doors with polished chrome ironmongery, and limestone gas-fired stoves by Lamartine.
Bespoke details include individually designed bathrooms with Heritage sanitaryware, recessed lighting, tiling and built-in storage. The kitchens are by Kitchen Elegance, and the custom-made full-height bedroom wardrobes are from Bedroom Elegance.
Despite the historical significance of the building, Tivoli Place's eco credentials are fully 21st century: there are solar panels, maximum air tightness on the windows, ceilings and door, and a gas-fired central heating using a condensing boiler and individual timer.
Each property has a south-facing private garden with timber trellis surrounds, a patio, maintenance-free synthetic grass, and an outdoor storage shed. There are two parking spaces for each house. The security side gates and car park are linked to an alarm system with intercom. The communal open space area to the front of the former children's home is fully landscaped.
Sizes at Tivoli Place range from 1,558 sq ft to 2,377 sq ft, with prices starting at €750,000. At least two of the five have already been reserved. No need to ask for more - a second phase of Tivoli Place, comprising five new builds, will come on the market next year. These three-storey-over-basement homes will be built in a Regency style.
The show home is on view by private appointment. For more details, visit www.tivoliplace.ie.
Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin
Asking price: From €750,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald New Homes (01) 6671888